By COLLEEN D. CURRAN — Sew Creative Lounge was filled with enthusiastic participants in the popular Sip and Sew DC class on Oct. 13 during the studio’s one-year anniversary celebration of its permanent location in Mount Rainier.
Cecily Stewart Habimana introduced herself, along with co-founder Tisha Thorne, to a packed room, proving the popularity of Sip and Sew DC and the myriad classes offered at the studio. The celebration featured craft stations, Sankofa Beer tasting, and food and additional beverages. DJ Mambo provided music.
Habimana talked about their approach to teaching, saying, “We’ve always had one instructor per six students. People come in with anxiety about sewing. We try to ease that.” Habimana said that Sew Creative Lounge’s instructors provide as much help as possible, making for an enjoyable and meaningful experience for participants and teachers, alike.
Habimana and Thorne, neighbors-turned-business-partners, held their first Sip and Sew DC class in 2014. Thorne is an experienced sewing instructor, and Habimana is a fashion designer. “I knew that she sewed,” Habimana said, “but I came to her studio, and [realized that] she really sewed,” emphasizing Thorne’s abilities. Habimana asked Thorne if she wanted to teach a sewing class and shared her idea for a fun and inviting way to teach the skills. Thorne agreed, and the two put the idea into practice.
“I think we got something here!” Thorne said, describing the quick success of the class. “We started with something that was just quarterly to something actually twice a month. The growth has been tremendous.”
Before establishing Sew Creative Lounge’s permanent home in Mount Rainier, Thorne and Habimana, with the help of their husbands, hauled all of their equipment — tables, chairs, sewing machines, fabric and more — to the Anacostia Arts Center, where they taught monthly classes. They later moved to the Mount Rainier Artist Lofts. But after about a year, the pair grew out of that space. Their hunt for more room led them to their current location, where they now teach up to five classes every week.
“I am very, very blessed that I can actually have a space to call my own and just share that love of sewing and quilting unto anyone who walks through that door,” said Thorne. “I’m very passionate about it.”
Sew Creative Lounge offers a variety of classes to all ages and skill levels. “[Sewing] is not an age thing. It’s not a color thing. It’s not a class thing. Sewing gives you that opportunity to be different, personalize it and customize it just for you,” said Thorne.
In October, for example, Sew Creative Lounge held classes on buttonhole and serger basics, as well as a “sewing palooza” where participants could use the studio’s equipment to work on their own projects.
Habimana and Thorne teach children’s classes, too. At a recent get-together, kids crafted for Halloween. Sew Creative Kids — classes for kids from 5 to 14 — are skill-based and run until Dec. 16.
In addition to learning the fundamentals, students can challenge themselves and gain new skills with specialty classes that encourage sewers to build a tailored business suit, create an ottoman or learn quilting basics.
The Sew Creative Lounge duo also teaches students at year-round after-school programs at two nearby schools.
Thorne and Habimana plan to expand their offerings at the Sew Creative Lounge and bring programs into the community through more outreach offerings at senior citizen centers and schools.